Bellaria means ‘sweets, dainties’, and in these hard times Classics for All will try to lighten the mood and put a spring in the step by posting delicious extracts from ancient literature, the original text followed by a translation or translations, and very occasionally with explanatory notes.

Bellaria XXXVI

3 December

In the fourth part of the 'Medieval Latin' series, this week's Bellaria features a sequence of texts drawn from Keith Sidwell’s Reading Medieval Latin (Cambridge, 1995), which explore the lives and poetic works of early Christian figures, including St Ambrose, Bishop Ninian, and Alcuin of York, before taking a look at the Carmina Burana, a medieval manuscript of 228 poems dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries.

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thomas becket being murdered

Bellaria XXXV

26 November

In the third part of the 'Medieval Latin' series, this week's Bellaria features a sequence of texts drawn from Keith Sidwell’s Reading Medieval Latin (Cambridge, 1995), which explore the life and death of Thomas Becket, and the battle between church and state that his martyrdom represented. 

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Bellaria XXXIV

19 November

In the second part of the 'Medieval Latin' series, this week's Bellaria features a sequence of texts drawn from Keith Sidwell’s Reading Medieval Latin (Cambridge, 1995), which explore the year 1066 and the decisive Battle of Hastings, accompanied by scenes from the Bayeux tapestry.

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Medieval drawing of Bede

Bellaria XXXIII

12 November

The next few Bellaria will feature a sequence of texts drawn from Keith Sidwell’s Reading Medieval Latin (Cambridge, 1995). It is a teaching text, with 86 passages, prose and verse, from St Benedict (b. 480) to Nigel Whiteacre (b. 1130), a monk active at the time of Henry II and Richard Lionheart.

The texts are supported by full historical and cultural introductions and running vocabulary and grammatical help. It ends with a brief grammar (summarising the main differences from classical Latin), a note on orthography, and total vocabulary for the texts. Professor Sidwell has kindly translated, as literally as possible, the passages selected for this series of Bellaria.

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Roman mosaic of fish

Bellaria XXXII

5 November

In the fifth and final part of the 'Derivations' series, this Bellaria abandons the thematic approach and ranges randomly over words whose roots lie in Latin and Greek, and were taken into English.

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statue of the goddess hygieia

Bellaria XXXI

29 October

In the fourth part of the 'Derivations' series, this week's Bellaria ranges far and wide over the unexpected or not obvious derivations of those words taken into English whose roots lie in Latin and Greek.

As far as the West is concerned, Hippocrates (5th C BC, from Cos) invented the language of medicine - from prognosis to diagnosis, from phlegm to haemorrhoids. He was enormously famous in the ancient world and is regarded as the father of ‘rational’ medicine. All that means is that he attempted as best he could to use evidence and experience to analyse and explain illnesses rather than to regard them as incomprehensible divine visitations.

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Roman marble relief of augers at work

Bellaria XXX

22 October

In the third part of the 'Derivations' series, this week's Bellaria ranges far and wide over the unexpected or not obvious derivations of those words taken into English whose roots lie in Latin and Greek.

One of the reasons for the success of Christianity was that Christians worked within the political, social and cultural framework of paganism, slowly reconstructing it as Christian. For example, D.O.M. is often seen on Roman inscriptions: Deo Optimo Maximo ‘[dedicated to] God Greatest Best’, i.e. Jupiter, a very ancient form of address. Christians happily took it over, referring to the Christian deity.

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Chaucer accompanied by Latin text from the Middle Ages

Bellaria XXIX

15 October

In the second part of the 'Derivations' series, this week's Bellaria ranges far and wide over the unexpected or not obvious derivations of those words taken into English whose roots lie in Latin and Greek.

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Bellaria 28

Bellaria XXVIII

8 October

In the first part of the 'Derivations' series, this week's Bellaria ranges far and wide over the unexpected or not obvious derivations of those words taken into English whose roots lie in Latin and Greek.

It is worth reminding ourselves of the broader picture of how English, a Germanic language, came to be so richly infiltrated with Latin and Greek...

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Bellaria 27

Bellaria XXVII

01 October

There was a time when the ability to compose in Greek and Latin verse was seen as the ne plus ultra of the classical scholar.

This one-off Bellaria showcases the extensive work of two modern masters of the art, Colin Leach (Emeritus Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford) and Armand D’Angour (Jesus College, Oxford), and individual contributions from David Butterfield (Queen’s College, Cambridge) and Ronald Knox.

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Bellaria 26

Bellaria XXVI

24 September

The Greek pupil has now learned enough Latin from the Colloquia and the grammar to turn to the real thing. But the wind needs tempering to the young, if not shorn, lamb...

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Bellaria 25

Bellaria XXV

17 September

It was Dositheus himself, not the pseudo incarnation, who was the first person to ensure his Latin grammar was comprehensible to his Greek pupils and teachers alike by translating it into Greek.

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Roman Dinner Party

Bellaria XXIV

10 September

This sequence of Bellaria is drawn from Professor Eleanor Dickey’s definitive scholarly editions (CUP, 2012 and 2015), and her spin-offs from them, Learning Latin the Ancient Way (CUP, 2016), Stories of Daily Life from the Ancient World (CUP, 2017) and an elementary textbook Learn Latin from the Romans (CUP, 2018).

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Bellaria 23

Bellaria XXIII

03 August

This sequence of Bellaria is drawn from Professor Eleanor Dickey’s definitive scholarly editions (CUP, 2012 and 2015), and her spin-offs from them, Learning Latin the Ancient Way (CUP, 2016), Stories of Daily Life from the Ancient World (CUP, 2017) and an elementary textbook Learn Latin from the Romans (CUP, 2018).

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Bellaria 22

Bellaria XXII

27 August

The extraordinary ‘Conversations to be found in the Translations of Pseudo-Dositheus’ are manuals to help Greeks learn Latin, and Romans Greek. Rather like a Loeb text or a Teach Yourself Swahili, they do this by setting jolly conversational scenes from everyday life—in simple language side by side on the page, together with pronunciation tips, vocabulary lists, grammar exercises and so on.

Professor Eleanor Dickey (Reading University) has been almost single-handedly responsible for bringing these texts into the light of day for the 21st century. For this Bellaria sequence Professor Dickey has most generously provided the texts, with her translations, from her scholarly editions, and allowed me to make full use of her commentaries and material from her books.

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Bellaria 21

Bellaria XXI

20 August

This sequence of Bellaria has been broadly thematic. That is not quite fair to Martial the poet, each of whose books reveals an impressively unpredictable diversity of subject matter. In that sense, it has been likened to the experience of reading a newspaper: you never know what is going to hit you next.

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Bellaria 16

Bellaria XX

13 August

It would be unfair to Martial to give the impression that his epigrams are all cynicism, sarcasm and outright bile. It is clear he put considerable effort into ensuring that each of his books demonstrated a huge variety of subjects, styles and moods.

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Bellaria 19

Bellaria XIX

06 August

Martial mentions nearly fifty jobs of one sort or another – from actors, advocates, architects and astrologers through executioners and gladiators to teachers, snake-keepers and undertakers…

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Bellaria 18

Bellaria XVIII

30 July

Martial is famous for his filthy poems. Some have a genial behind-the-bike-sheds feel to them

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Bellaria 17

Bellaria XVII

23 July

Apologies in advance for the doggerel (per)versions. Prose translations of Martial don’t do it for me.

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Bellaria 16

Bellaria XVI

16 July

We shall now wake from the dreams of Artemidorus and turn our attention to the rapier wit of Rome’s most scabrous poet – none other than Martial.

To judge from his poetry (always a dodgy business with a poet): Marcus Valerius Martialis was a Spaniard with a good Roman name, like his parents Fronto and Flacilla (5.34). So presumably the family had at some stage in the past held office in the municipium where they lived (Augusta Bibilis, on a hill near modern Catalayud, 4.55) and as a result been given Roman citizenship.

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Bellaria 15

Bellaria XV

09 July

It is remarkable that the world of the Roman Empire rarely features in Artemidorus. Only two emperors – Hadrian and Antoninus Pius – are mentioned, and where emperors feature at all it is mostly as symbols and images.

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Bellaria 14

Bellaria XIV

02 July

Life in the ancient world was not sacrosanct, with little sympathy for the ill, crippled or mentally deficient. In this respect, it was a very unforgiving world.

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Bellaria 13

Bellaria XIII

25 June

For Artemidorus there was much more to a dream than its actual subject…

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Bellaria 12

Bellaria XII

18 June

Here Artemidorus describes the subjects of the dreams discussed in the first two of his (eventually) five books.

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Bellaria 11

Bellaria XI

11 June

Artimedorus from Daldis, near Ephesus, writing c. AD 200 was a professional interpreter of dreams. He composed his Interpretation of Dreams (henceforth ID, Oneirokritika in Greek) in five books, showing the beginner how it should be done.

This run of Bellaria will introduce supporters of Classics for All to this enthusiastic hero of the genre. By kind permission of Martin Hammond, we shall be using his fine new translation Artemidorus: ID (Oxford World’s Classics, 2020), with notes by Peter Thonemann (Wadham College, Oxford), whose superb An Ancient Dream Manual (Oxford 2020) gives a full and fascinating account of Artemidorus’ mighty opus.

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Bellaria 10

Bellaria X

4 June

This is the last of the extracts from Tom Holland’s first drafts of his forthcoming translation for Penguin. Classics for All is extremely grateful to Tom for allowing our supporters to peep into this work in progress and much looks forward to the finished article (summer 2021).

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Bellaria 9

Bellaria IX

28 May

Suetonius makes it clear that one important criterion of the ‘good emperor’ was the care he lavished on the city and people Rome, and another the moderation he exemplified in his own personal life. Augustus came out top in both…

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Bellaria 8

Belaria VIII

21 May

In this passage Suetonius, who had full access to the imperial library and its archives, quotes directly from three of Augustus’s letters on the matter of Claudius to his wife Livia. While Augustus is absolutely frank about the practical problem that Claudius (aged 21 at the time) presents for the imperial family, there is a touching humanity about his feelings for his great nephew.

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Bellaria 7

Bellaria VII

14 May

Suetonius, who wrote widely on literary and grammatical topics, here summaries his findings from examining Augustus’ formal and informal literary style, handwriting and spelling.

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Bellaria 6

Bellaria VI

7 May

Horace declared that books combining utile dulci won everyone’s vote (punctum). Since pleasure is the most useful thing in the world, that is no surprise, but Horace was clearly distinguishing the two. So in this case, ‘useful to whom?’ This run of Bellaria answers as follows: the historian Tom Holland.

Tom is currently translating Suetonius’ de vita Caesarum for Penguin Classics. Like Suetonius, he is thoroughly in favour of Classics for All, and would be delighted if CfA were to run the rule over his first draft (he is currently up to Vespasian). So the next five Bellaria will feature scenes from Suetonius in Tom’s translation. One of his stated aims is to keep as close as possible to Suetonius’ word-order.

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Bellaria 5

Bellaria V

30 April

Ausonius’ wife was Sabina. They had three children. Iuvenis and puella (l. 4) are the language of love-poetry. Ausonius envisages them growing old together, although his hopes of a long marriage were not fulfilled.

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Bellaria 4

Bellaria IV

23 April

Here is a magnificent single stanza poem from Petronius’ Satyricon, which is not what it seems.

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Bellaria 3

Bellaria III

16 April

Here Propertius (c. 50-15 BC), in a sort of post-coital haze, moves from monologue to dialogue and back again, shifting between past and present, hope and desire, as he recalls and reflects on a night of love-making.

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Bellaria 2

Bellaria II

9 April

Auberon Waugh, then editor of Literary Review, invented the now famous annual ‘Bad Sex’ Award ‘to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel’.

Given that C-19 means we are all apparently doomed, it is the socially responsible thing to encourage the population’s philoprogenitive urges. Classics for All’s series of Bellaria will therefore start with five scenes which would (probably) have won an ancient ‘Good Sex’ award…

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Zeus & Hera

Bellaria I

2 April

Auberon Waugh, then editor of Literary Review, invented the now famous annual ‘Bad Sex’ Award ‘to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel’.

Given that C-19 means we are all apparently doomed, it is the socially responsible thing to encourage the population’s philoprogenitive urges. Classics for All’s series of Bellaria will therefore start with five scenes which would (probably) have won an ancient ‘Good Sex’ award…

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Bellaria Complete Series

Bellaria Complete Series

All current instalments of Bellaria in one document.

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